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3 MIN READ – If you plan to be #BackInTheLoop, there are many clean, safe, and healthy options for how to do it. Below are our expert tips, and up-to-date information on any service changes.
All the same transportation options exist now as before—public transportation, cycling, driving, ride hail, and walking—but each have seen some changes during the pandemic. Here’s what returning workers and visitors can expect:
The CTA is committed to providing the cleanest, most comfortable environment possible for customers. Their strategies include:
- Promoting social distancing and customers and CTA employees wearing masks/face coverings
- Running full service continuously throughout the pandemic and all re-opening phases, including adding longer trains and longer buses to some routes
- Establishing passenger limits on buses and trains -- approximately 15 customers on standard 40-foot buses and approximately 22 customers on 60-foot articulated buses and each train car
- Launching real-time camera crowd monitoring and addressing via audio announcements
- Providing public information on ridership trends and crowding by bus or train route via their ridership dashboards.
The agency has shared detailed information about their cleaning efforts, travel tips and tools, and ridership dashboards that provide average ridership trends to help you avoid crowded buses or trains. Riders should always check CTA schedules online before commuting.
PACE bus schedules, which serve Chicagos suburban counties, are regularly updated here.
For commuters normally reliant on Metra, most lines are in service, but are using alternative schedules. Customers should check schedules online before they travel. Metra is prepared to add cars to trains and add trains to the schedules as ridership grows in order to allow for responsible social distancing on trains as much as possible and as long as possible. Metra continues to deep clean all cars and has developed a new cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting regimen to keep customers as safe as possible on a daily basis. Metra asks all customers to wear a face covering, maintain distance from others on the train, and remain seated rather than crowd aisles or vestibules as your stop approaches. Metra will allow plenty of time to safely exit the train when it reaches your destination.
South Shore Line trains also regularly update schedules here.
For tips on how to safely ride public transportation, see the below infographic, developed by Active Transportation Alliance in collaboration with subject matter experts from the Cook County Department of Public Health and feedback from local transit agencies.
Cycling and other light individual transport
If you decide to bike to work, consider using Divvy. Divvy associates (like Chicago Loop Alliance’s May Loop Employee of the Month) frequently disinfect high-contact surfaces on bikes and wear gloves when handling anything at the storage depot or in transport vans. Divvy also recommends that associates wear a cloth face covering, and are distributing those wherever possible. It is recommended that riders follow CDC guidance and wear a face covering in public, as well as checking regularly updated Divvy transit information before traveling.
If you prefer to ride a personal bike, e-scooter, hoverboard, or other “light individual transport” vehicle operated in a bike lane, check out Active Transportation Alliance’s Everyday Biking Guide for tips and resources. And view their shareable infographics about how to walk and bike safely during COVID-19, which was co-developed with the Cook County Department of Public Health. And remember, the Lakefront Trail and the 606 are still closed. Also, check out our winter cycling tips for new cyclists that may be returning to work.
If you drive to the Loop, consider using iParkit for the most convenient locations at the best rates. First-time Express parkers get 20 percent off any iParkit location the first five times you park with Express. You don’t have to worry about tickets or reservations; just download the iParkit app, create an account, scan in and out of the garage, and your payment is automatically processed upon exit with a receipt emailed to you. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to discuss employee or tenant discount programs. This touchless parking option is not just convenient, but also clean and safe. You can also learn how to get free parking on Mondays through our Loop Deal here.
Another parking option is Millennium Garages, which are open 24/7 and are offering special pricing to essential workers. Simply drive in, take a ticket, and pay on exit. You can also buy online in advance and save up to 50 percent off drive-up rates. Other options are hourly and daily drive-up rates, monthly parking, and multi-day rates.
Hailing a ride from a taxi or other service like Uber or Lyft will likely be a little different than pre-COVID. For instance, Lyft introduced its Health Safety Program with new policies, commitments and products designed to address community needs during this important time for public health. The primary feature of the Health Safety Program is the new Personal Health Certification, which will require all riders and drivers to wear face masks when using Lyft. Many drivers have also installed partitions in their vehicles between the driver and passenger. Before using Lyft, every rider and driver will be required to self-certify that they will wear face masks throughout the ride, are symptom-free and will follow CDC and local health official guidelines related to COVID-19. Specifically, riders and drivers will confirm that:
- They will wear a face mask or covering
- They will not ride or drive with Lyft if they have COVID-19, think they have it, or have related symptoms
- They will keep vehicles clean and sanitize their hands frequently
- They will leave windows open when possible and avoid recirculated air when possible
- Passengers will not ride in the front seat
Drivers and riders who do not agree to the Personal Health Certification will be unable to request a ride or drive with Lyft.
It may not have seemed like the best option before COVID-19, but for those who live in or near the Loop, walking may be the safest and easiest bet for getting downtown. It takes an average of 15-20 minutes to walk 1 mile.
Wear a mask
No matter which option you choose for getting to the Loop, remember that it is required under state and local orders to wear a face covering any time you could come within 6 feet of others.
Share your transportation plans and return stories with Chicago Loop Alliance on social media with #BackInTheLoop.
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